Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vancouver has a bedbug registry. I came upon the site last week, where I noticed an incident report filed by a customer trying on shirts at a Salvation Army thrift store. When the customer complained, they were told to phone the manager, who, in turn, told them the bedbug didn’t come from the store -- implication being that they brought the bedbug with them.

Yesterday, while on my way home from a meeting, I decided to visit the store. I have never seen a bedbug and was curious to know what one looked like. I was also curious to see what the store manager looked like, if indeed they resembled what I imagined someone who assumes the source of all complaints is the complainant looks like.

Once inside I became distracted by a larger-than-average number of first edition hardcover books. Because I know something of the first edition market, I scooped them up, figuring to make a couple hundred dollars on a ten-dollar investment.

As I made my way to the cashier's counter, I was approached by a Websit reader. She had read my Aug 18th post and related the story of how she too made catalogue collages as a kid, and have I seen this: What A Life! by E.V. Lucas and George Morrow? (This was the 1975 Dover Edition, with an “Introduction” by John Ashbery, not the 1911 original published by Methuen & Co.)

What a beautiful book! A life told in pictures cut from a Whiteley’s catalogue (the UK’s oldest department store, and across from where I once lived, in London’s Bayswater district). Here is an excerpt from Lucas and Morrow’s “Preface”:

“One man searching the pages of Whiteley General Catalogue will find only facts and prices; another will find what we think we have found – a deeply-moving human drama.”

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